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THE SUMMER SET Discussion Guide:
1. In what ways are many of the characters (Charlie, Nick, Chase, Sierra, Ethan) “acting” in their real lives? What are they trying to project about themselves and how does it differ from how they feel on the inside? Can you think of times in your own life when you’ve tried to appear a certain way to hide your true emotions?
2. Which characters are reinventing themselves and embarking on a “second act”? How do they feel about their journeys? How successful are they? What does The Summer Set reveal about failure, second chances and reinvention? Have you ever made a major life change? How did it feel?
3. Charlie talks about “returning to her roots” as a metaphor for returning to theater work. Matteo mentions water as a symbol of life and rebirth. What role does the natural world play in the novel? How are certain characters reinvigorated by their landscape and inspired by the world around them? (Or in Jasmine’s case, perhaps just the opposite!)
4. Charlie and Nick have so much history—good and bad. Why do you think they still have sparks when they meet again? Do you think it ever works to get back with an ex? Can people change?
5. What does The Summer Set have to say about the passage of time? What role does time play in the relationships in the book?
6. How do the three Shakespeare plays staged at the theater—Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Tempest—reflect what’s going on offstage at the theater?
7. Charlie had an unconventional childhood. How does her upbringing shape her interactions with Danica’s young son, Gianni? How does Charlie’s friendship with Gianni help her understand her relationship with her own mother?
8. How do the characters’ opinions about fame differ? For characters not as interested in fame, what motivates them instead? What is the book’s message about fame and stardom?
9. In what ways do Ethan and Sierra remind Charlie and Nick of their younger selves? Though Charlie and Nick should be the mentors, how do Ethan and Sierra perhaps help them? Do you have a mentor? How have they helped you navigate different times in your life?
10. Do you think Charlie and Nick stay together after this summer? Why or why not? If so, what do you think their first creative project together might be?
CAMPAIGN WIDOWS Discussion Guide:
1. How does Cady’s arrival as the new girl in town bring the Widows together? In what ways does she become the glue uniting them?
2. Though the Widows all lead very different lives, they quickly become each other’s shoulders to cry on. What are the turning points in their friendships? Think about your own friendships. What are some of the moments that have solidified those bonds?
3. How is the campaign itself a character? What effect does it have on each character’s relationships? Think about your own relationships. How have they been tested, and what made them succeed or stumble?
4. Discuss how each Widow evolves over the course of the story. How do the bumps in their romantic relationships make them stronger as individuals?
5. In what ways do the Widows end up influencing the election, despite being on the periphery of the campaigns?
6. Do you think Rocky Haze will be a good leader, and if so, why? Would you have voted for her?
7. Discuss the current of girl power running through the story. How are many of the women underestimated at different times in the novel? How does each overcome obstacles and rise above the naysayers?
8. What would each Widow have to say about the idea of “having it all,” the notion of successfully balancing personal and professional lives? How does this theme relate to your own life?
9. How is the theme of independence woven throughout the novel? What type of message does the story send about believing in yourself and taking chances?
10. Which Widow did you most relate to? Which Widow would you most want to be friends with and why?
11. Discuss the tone at the end of the novel. How did you feel about the way the author chose to conclude the story?